Tech assists water utilities improve sewer systems

23rd April 2021 By: Khutso Maphatsoe - journalist

Tech assists water utilities  improve sewer systems

PROBLEM SOLVED The power behind BLU-X is not only the data collected but also the meaningful insights generated that will enable utilities to make informed decisions

Water technology company Xylem Africa offers the BLU-X wastewater network optimisation technology to water utilities for better control over the performance and capacity of their sewer system assets.

“BLU-X helps utilities to reduce sewerage overflow, detect sewer blockages, minimise flooding events and identify sources of infiltration and inflow to ensure regulatory compliance by leveraging existing infrastructure,” explains Xylem Africa strategy and marketing manager Chetan Mistry.

BLU-X uses an innovative sense, predict, act model that provides utilities with enhanced control over their wastewater network to better manage flow and reduce discharge.

The ‘sense’ process includes the integration of real-time data from a network of rain gauges, level sensors, flow meters, conductivity sensors and other existing sources into one centralised system. This provides utilities with a simple, transparent and continuously updated view of their sewer system.

The ‘predict’ process involves the creation of a digital twin of the sewer system to forecast operating conditions by running thousands of iterations of the hydraulic and hydrological models in real time.

Owing to the advanced control algorithms and operator input, Mistry recommends that the strategies created for optimal operating conditions in sewer systems during dry and wet weather should be managed by the operator or set to run automatically.

The ‘act’ process involves combining analysis tools with the option of globally coordinated and automated controls to provide operators with one system containing all the information and tools they need to make real-time operational decisions.

Mistry adds that BLU-X enables utility leaders to optimise levels of service while saving capital expenditure, reducing risk and protecting the environment.

When utilities buy BLU-X, Xylem initiates a discovery phase using the three-step sense, predict, act model to conduct critical investigations and use those findings to choose the correct solution for the company.

Mistry highlights that, during the first step, Xylem conducts an initial discovery session to identify the utility’s problem areas in its system and determines the metrics it will use to track the network’s impact on a plant.

During the second step, Xylem uses the company’s existing data and analyses the performance of the company’s system to identify opportunities to operate the treatment plant more efficiently and address the problem at a lower cost.

Xylem collaborates with the company through a workshop, during which it provides a data-driven presentation and discusses its analysis in the third step.

“The outcome of these three steps is a high-level, prioritised set of recommendations and practical next steps to optimise the operational and efficiency outcomes of the company’s system,” Mistry notes.

Further, he states that improvements to the BLU-X are continuous, with Xylem also spending about 3.6% of its revenue on research and development across its portfolio.

Mistry concludes that, the BLU-X presents potential for growth as the technology is relatively new in Africa. Utilities and business can include BLU-X as part of their strategies to optimise their operations.